February 2, 2019

Does Taking Migrant Children from Parents Constitute a Crime Against Humanity? Before reading this, I suggest you read the following New York Times article from June 5, 2018: “Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tells U.S.” Many people both within the U.S. and outside it condemned the U.S. practice of separating children from parents at southern border crossings. Over the months of this operation as many as two thousand (probably more) children (many of them little more than… Read more

January 29, 2019

Is Evangelicalism White? Increasingly others are joining me (or I am joining them) in criticizing the tendency of American sociologists or religion, their researchers, and the mass media to identify “evangelical” as a white phenomenon. I find this equation both bewildering and disturbing. Now, I have to admit that when there was a semi-organized “evangelical movement” in the United States it was primarily led by Caucasian males. In my opinion, that post-World War 2 movement that looked to Billy Graham… Read more

January 26, 2019

What Is a “Moral Universe?” In my immediately preceding blog essay here I talked about God, being, and goodness and equated them. I also argued that without that equation, this cannot really be a “moral universe” except in the sense (if one can say it seriously and with a straight face) that everything is as it should be (or everything simply “is what it is”). In my experience, many people, both Christians and non-Christians, do not really understand what is… Read more

January 23, 2019

Down to “Rock Bottom” of Christian Theism: God and the Good Unfortunately for everyone (including God), the vast majority of people who consider themselves Christians have little to no understanding of basic Christian world and life perspective. Unfortunately for Christianity, the vast majority of people who consider themselves astute critics of Christianity have little to no understanding of basic Christian world and life perspective. A few of us Christians do, but getting people, Christians and critics of Christianity, to sit… Read more

January 20, 2019

Does God “Embrace All People Regardless…?” Not very long ago I was invited to sign a “declaration” crafted by a group of noted American religious scholars and leaders that condemns racism and other forms of bigotry and calls for American Christians to oppose public policies and behaviors—both public and private—that work to the detriment of disadvantaged, oppressed, marginalized people. Hundreds of scholars and religious leaders signed it. I don’t think that I did. (The list of signatories is so long… Read more

January 17, 2019

Is There Anything New Under the Sun? (Return to Discussion of “INC”) My previous (most recently preceding) blog post about the so-called “INC” phenomenon has set off a conversation (almost a debate) about whether INC is really new or, as I argue, just a new manifestation of something old. If you are joining here and don’t know what “INC” refers to, please look back to the previous blog post here. It was entitled “A Newish American Church Phenomenon: INC (Independent… Read more

January 13, 2019

A Newish American Church Phenomenon: INC (Independent Network Christianity) I learned the name of this relatively new phenomenon via a review of the 2017 book The Rise of Network Christianity (OUP, 2017) by sociologists Brad Christerson and Richard Flory by James K. A. Smith. The review was published in the Los Angeles Review of Books and can be found at https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/how-to-find-god-on-youtube/. The review’s title is “How to Find God (on YouTube).” Christerson and Flory have given this phenomenon a name:… Read more

January 10, 2019

The “Judge Judged in Our Place”: Substitutionary Atonement Reclaimed Over the years of teaching theology I have discovered that many young, ardent, passionate Christians are rebelling against traditional evangelical understandings of the atoning death of Jesus Christ without fully understanding them. Often, even usually, conversation reveals that their ideas of substitutionary atonement are distorted. This distortion often arises from sermon illustrations and folk religion.   Without wanting to enshrine substitutionary atonement as the only way of understanding the work of… Read more

January 7, 2019

“Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall” The poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost was first published in 1914. The first line is the title of this blog essay. Some of us older folks will remember the outrage in Western Europe and North America, especially, when The Democratic Republic of Germany (communist East Germany) built an ugly wall to keep East Berliners in and West Berliners (and others) out. Two U.S. presidents stood near the wall and called for… Read more

January 4, 2019

Empathy Is Good; Justice Is Better In a way, this is “Part 3” of an ongoing series of blog posts about the foundation for ethics. The question with which I began two essays ago was whether or not human rights depend on a transcendent reality “above” nature. Of course, all along (and I mean all along!) I have been arguing here that this is the case—namely that ethical and moral absolutes (not necessarily “rules”) must have some source and foundation… Read more

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